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Improv:21 - Plants Make Music!: An Informance with Miya Masaoka

Published 2006

Derk Richardson interviews Japanese-American koto player, composer, and performance artist Miya Masaoka during a live informance recorded on March 8, 2006 at the 21 Grand in Oakland Ca., After an aborted attempt to get the technology to work for her “Pieces for Plants”, in which electrodes pick up voltages from a number of plants, which are then used to trigger musical events, Masaoka instead performs an improvisation for koto and electronics. She then sits down with Richardson to discusses her conceptual compositions for plants, her solo work on koto, and her methods of improvisation. She describes some of her earlier works that involved using insects, spiders, bees, and birds, and how the difficulty, not to mention the questionable legality, of touring with tarantulas led her to work with the more manageable plants. After a considerable amount of tinkering with her computer, during which she also fielded questions from the audience concerning the dichotomy between composing and improvising, a difference that she generally considers to be unimportant, Miya finally gets the plants to respond to her proximity and to perform her piece. This is followed by another questions and answers period in which she engages the audience in a discussion about the interpretive role of technology in interacting with organic plant life, and other related issues. The program concludes with Masoka performing on the koto.

Run time 96 min
Producer ROVA:Arts
Audio/Visual sound, color
Language English
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Stream Only
on 5/9/2008